Series Review: Stranger Things – Season 2 (2017)

The Month of Spooks, still going strong! And on the plate today we have the second season of last year’s smash hit Netflix series. So let’s get into it.

Ladies and gents… “Stranger Things” season 2.

It’s 1984, one year has passed since the horrifying events that transpired in Hawkins, Indiana. And ever since he’d been rescued from the Upside Down, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp) ihas been experiencing a series of terrifying visions. And we soon find out that a new threat in looming over the sleepy little town, ready to take over. And that’s just the main plot here, we do get several sub-plots as well. This is an ambitious narrative, both in making the monstrous threat feel bigger, and in just expanding this world that we’ve gotten to know. And while that is a risky move for any show, since the multiple sub-plots aspect can tangle itself up and become convoluted, I feel like “Stranger Things” pulls it off nicely. You have the tension of the monster plot, you have the drama of finding out more about Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), you have the kids meeting this new girl (Sadie Sink) that comes to town, you have the struggles of Nancy, Jonathan, and Steve (Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery)… what I’m trying to say is that there’s a metric buttload of threads here, and they never feel like they tangle into a mess. It’s a solid plot filled with good drama, mystery, and charm.

The characters in “Stranger Things” are likable, layered, and endlessly interesting. Let’s start with Will Byers, played by Noah Schnapp, because he is more or less the focus of this season. Sure, he’s safe(ish) from the Upside Down, but he’s experiencing these horrifying/traumatic visions, putting him in a more vulnerable position. And Schnapp is great in the role. Then we have Finn Wolfhard as Mike Wheeler, the pseudo-leader of this group of friends. Seeing him trying to cope after his friend/love Eleven has been out of his life is actually a bit heartbreaking, but he’s not some mopey idiot about it, keeping him interesting. And Wolfhard is great in the role. Then let’s go with David Harbour who once again plays police chief Jim Hopper. He’s still a stern man with his heart in the right place. Hopper was my fave last season and he still might be. So yeah, Harbour is great in the role. Gaten Matarazzo returns as Dustin, the funny and slightly naive little man with the colorful hat. Like I said, he’s a bit naive, but he’s not stupid. He’s also the funniest of the four main kids. And Matarazzo is great in the role. Caleb McLaughlin returns as Lucas, the slightly more serious one in the group. And McLaughlin is great in the role. Then we have Winona Ryder once again as Joyce, mother of Will, and slightly neurotic person. However, her being a bit nervous like that is understandable after everything that happened last season. But she seems to have found a decent system for her life… until shit starts getting real again, that is. And Ryder is great in the role. Natalia Dyer returns as Nancy and she’s really good. Charlie Heaton returns as Jonathan, and he’s great in the role. Joe Keery is back as Steve, and he’s great in the role. Millie Bobby Brown returns as Eleven, and she’s great in the role. Right, returning faces done, now for some newbies. We get Sean Astin as Bob, Joyce’s new boyfriend. He’s a bit of a dork, but he’s a good person and he does everything to try to be a good pseudo-father for the Byers boys. And Astin is really good in the role. Sadie Sink plays Max, the new girl in town with a seemingly troubled home life. She meets the boys and more or less starts befriending them. And Sink is great in the role. Then we have Dacre Montgomery as Billy, a new guy in town who is a big asshole bully. And while he doesn’t have much of an arc, Montgomery is really in the role. And finally, we have Paul Reiser as a doctor who is likable and kind, but seems to have some shady shit going on. And Reiser is great in the role. Overall, this has great characters and the performances are great.

Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein returned to do the score for this season, and once again they killed it. The synth-heavy sounds perfectly capture the era and tone, and does even manage to create some decent tension at times. Really, it’s more of the good synth-y stuff, not much else I can say. And since this is set in the 80s, we of course get some really awesome licensed songs throughout from not only the 80s, but also 60s and 70s… it’s really just an awesome soundtrack that made me very happy. Overall, great music.

The show was created by the Duffer brothers, and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. And it’s just overall very well handled. The directing is tense, fun, and filled with energy. And Tod Campbell’s cinematography is of course absolutely stunning. And the visual effects in the show look great too. There’s also plenty of comedy in this show, and I thought it was all really funny. I also enjoy that it never overshadows the drama/Lovecraftian sci-fi, but just is another part of the world that comes into play every now and then.

This show/season just came out but has already been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,9/10 and is ranked #37 on the “Top 250 TV” list.

“Stranger Things” season 2 is pretty awesome. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, fantastic music, and great directing/cinematography/writing. Time for my final score. *Rawr*. My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is a 9,86/10. So it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Stranger Things” season 2 is now completed.

Awesome.

Movie Review: Whiplash (2014)

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Here is a little fun fact for you, I am actually a musician. Yeah, didn’t see that one coming, did ya? I play the trombone. For how long you may ask? Well this fall I will have played for 10 years (Damn, dude!). I enjoy playing and it is something that I have always enjoyed despite a few ups and downs here and there. And even though there have been times I have felt I didn’t enjoy it too much, I have never had it as tough as the main character of this movie.

What I am saying is that this is my review of “Whiplash”.

Andrew Neyman (Miles Teller) is a young man with a dream. This dream is to become the next big jazz drummer. So he enrolls in this certain music school. And when he gets a shot to be in a sort of high-end orchestra in that school he meets conductor Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) who is the scariest motherfucker ever. And from that point on we see not only how Andrew evolves as a drummer and person but we also get to see some psychological warfare between him and Fletcher. And this butting of heads creates one of the most intense storylines I have seen and not one firearm is shot. You see how Fletcher really does his best to bring Andrew down to the ground with both verbal and physical abuse. You see how Andrew dealing with the orchestral/Fletcher problems and you also get a small look into the fact on how the world looks at musicians compared to athletes. And I loved absolutely every second of the story of this movie. It is dramatic, it is intense and it is powerful. I was interested every second of screentime. The story of “Whiplash” is fantastic.

All the characters have good arcs, writing and acting. Miles Teller I never expected much from in anything really, but I was kind of turned around when I saw him in this movie. He really got some great acting chops. So I am curious to see how he takes on the role of Mr. Fantastic in the upcoming “Fantastic Four” movie. But by far, the highlight of the movie was the performance of J.K. Simmons. Let me put it like this. There is good acting, there is great acting and then there is J.K. Simmons in “Whiplash”. When he was on screen I didn’t see J. Jonah Jameson or Assistant Chief Will Pope, this was a new guy who I swear is the most intimidating character in a movie since Derk Vinyard in “American History X”. Simmons was absolutely fantastic as this vulgar, loud and frightening character. I do overall think the characters and the acting in this movie are absolutely great.

The score by Tim Simonec is great. It is jazzy, it is cool and it fits fantastically in this movie. Of course there were a few tracks that were simply covers (like Don Ellis’ song “Whiplash”). But the covers that were in the movie were absolutely fantastic and the original tracks were great as well. This is a soundtrack I love listening to and will probably buy.

This movie is beautifully shot. Sure, it isn’t as innovative as “Birdman” but it still looks great. The use of darkness and lighting in this movie is really great and the camera work is really, really good. Something that was interesting to find out about this movie is that even though they are playing to backing tracks in the movie, Miles Teller is apparently one hell of a drummer and has been playing since age 15. I also want to mention that the last 10 – 20 minutes of this movie are absolutely phenomenal and is probably one of the best finales I have seen in any movie ever.

This movie has gotten some pretty great reception. On Rotten Tomatoes this movie has a 95% positive rating with a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic this movie got a score of 88/100. And on imdb.com this movie has an 8,6/10 and is ranked #38 on the “Top 250” list. “Whiplash” also won 3 Oscars in the categories of Best Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons), Best Film Editing and Best sound mixing. The movie was also nominated for another 2 Oscars in the categories of Best motion picture of the year and Best adapted screenplay. 

“Whiplash” is an absolutely fantastic movie with a great story, fantastic performances, great music, great directing and one of the best finales ever! Time for my final score. JEFF! GET THE FOLDER! Great! Get the fuck out of my sight before I demolish you! My final score for “Whiplash” is a 9,85/10. This is a fantastic movie that definitely is worthy of the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
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Review of “Whiplash” is now done.

I don’t wanna start playing drums, I might end up with Fletcher!